Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. (James 3:1–3, ESV)
In the midst of his teaching, James writes, “We all stumble in many ways.” “Stumbling” is different than a pattern of willfully disobeying God. Stumbling is a moment when our thoughts get away from us, our emotions get out of whack, and our flesh and desires take control. Willful disobedience is when we practice unrighteous behavior intentionally and with premeditation.
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4, ESV)
When we practice something, we work at it; we intentionally do it over and over. If I am a musician, I practice playing my instrument. I don’t stumble into playing an instrument. I have to take the clarinet out of the case, attach the mouthpiece, and make it work.
How have you stumbled in your speech? Have you said something hurtful that you didn’t intend to say? Did you blurt out something that was mean, unkind, or foolish? Take responsibility for those things. Don’t hide your sin in your heart. Confess it to God and to the other person.
Lord, help me to be humble when I stumble. I want to confess my sins quickly to you and to the others who are involved. . . Continue praying.
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